Counterparty: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research September 21, 2023

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  • Counterparty is a decentralized platform built on the Bitcoin blockchain, enabling the creation and exchange of digital assets
  • It is an open-source and decentralized platform offering smart contract functionality and decentralized trading
  • Users can create and trade custom tokens representing various assets, and participate in decentralized applications (dapps).
  • Counterparty ensures security and immutability by leveraging the Bitcoin blockchain, but faces challenges with complexity, transaction fees, scalability and regulatory uncertainty


Counterparty is a decentralized platform built on the Bitcoin blockchain, enabling the creation and exchange of digital assets. By utilizing the Bitcoin blockchain, Counterparty ensures the security and immutability of its assets, making them resistant to censorship and fraud.

A Brief History

Counterparty launched in January 2014 by a team of developers led by Adam Krellenstein and Robby Dermody. The project aimed to address the limitations of the Bitcoin protocol by enabling the creation and execution of smart contracts directly on the Bitcoin blockchain. By leveraging the robustness and security of the Bitcoin blockchain, Counterparty aimed to provide a decentralized platform for financial applications and asset issuance.

Counterparty: Everything to Know

Token Creation and Asset Issuance. Counterparty allows users to create custom tokens and issue digital assets on the Bitcoin blockchain. These tokens can represent various assets such as cryptocurrencies, loyalty points or real-world assets like company shares. Users can trade these tokens on decentralized exchanges (DEX) or use them within specific dapps built on the Counterparty platform.

Smart Contracts. Counterparty introduces smart contract functionality to the Bitcoin blockchain, enabling the execution of self-executing agreements without intermediaries. Smart contracts on Counterparty are written using Solidity, a programming language similar to Ethereum's smart contract language. These contracts can define complex conditions and actions, automating various financial agreements like decentralized derivatives, crowdfunding, or autonomous organizations (DAOs).

Decentralized Exchange (DEX). Counterparty facilitates decentralized trading through its built-in decentralized exchange, the Counterparty DEX. Users can trade Counterparty tokens directly from their personal wallets without relying on a centralized intermediary. The Counterparty DEX operates on a peer-to-peer basis, ensuring transparency, security and control over one's assets.

Counterparty Token (XCP). The native cryptocurrency of the Counterparty platform is called Counterparty Token (XCP). XCP serves multiple purposes within the ecosystem. It is used for transaction fees, similar to Bitcoin's role as a transactional currency. Additionally, XCP is used for creating new tokens and participating in certain platform features like voting on protocol upgrades. XCP can be obtained through purchasing on exchanges or participating in token sales.

Decentralized Applications (dapps). Counterparty supports the development and deployment of decentralized applications on its platform. These dapps can leverage smart contract functionality and interact with the Counterparty ecosystem. Developers can use Counterparty's APIs and libraries to create innovative financial applications like lending platforms, prediction markets or identity systems.

Security and Immutability. Counterparty benefits from the robust security and immutability of the Bitcoin blockchain. By building on top of Bitcoin, Counterparty inherits the network's decentralized consensus mechanism and protection against double-spending attacks. The use of Bitcoin's blockchain ensures the immutability of Counterparty's transactions and smart contracts, providing high-level security for users' assets and agreements.

Getting Started

To start using Counterparty, users need a Bitcoin wallet that supports Counterparty tokens. One popular option is Counterwallet, a web-based wallet specifically designed for Counterparty. Alternatively, users can use compatible wallets like Armory or IndieSquare. Once a wallet is set up, users can acquire Counterparty tokens by exchanging Bitcoin for XCP, the native token of the Counterparty platform, on supported cryptocurrency exchanges.

Unique Aspects

Counterparty has several unique aspects that distinguish it from other cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms. One key feature is the ability to create and trade custom digital assets directly on the Bitcoin blockchain. These assets, known as Counterparty tokens, can represent a wide range of real-world or virtual assets, including virtual goods, loyalty points and ownership rights to physical assets.

Another unique aspect of Counterparty is its support for decentralized smart contracts. Counterparty uses a programming language called Solidity, which is similar to Ethereum's programming language. This allows developers to create and deploy smart contracts on the Counterparty platform, enabling complex financial agreements and applications. Smart contracts on Counterparty are executed by the Bitcoin network, ensuring their trustless and transparent nature.

Counterparty also introduces the concept of "burning" to facilitate the creation of new Counterparty tokens. Burning refers to the process of sending Bitcoin to an unspendable address, effectively removing them from circulation. By burning Bitcoin, users can create new Counterparty tokens and assign them specific properties and functionalities. This mechanism ensures that Counterparty tokens have a direct relationship with the underlying Bitcoin network, making them inherently secure and valuable.

Furthermore, Counterparty offers a decentralized exchange (DEX) where users can trade Counterparty tokens directly with each other. This eliminates the need for intermediaries and provides a more secure and transparent trading experience. The DEX operates on the principle of atomic swaps, allowing users to trade assets without relying on a trusted third party. This decentralized nature aligns with the core principles of cryptocurrencies, enabling peer-to-peer transactions without centralized exchanges.


  • Asset Creation. Counterparty allows easy creation of digital assets, providing opportunities for businesses and individuals to tokenize assets like loyalty points, intellectual property or real estate. No intermediaries needed.
  • Security. Built on the Bitcoin blockchain, Counterparty inherits high-level security. The battle-tested Bitcoin network is resistant to hacking and tampering, making Counterparty a trustworthy platform for asset creation and trading.
  • Decentralization. Counterparty operates in a decentralized manner, ensuring assets created are free from censorship or manipulation. Transactions are verified by a network of participants, preventing any individual or group from controlling the entire system.
  • Interoperability. Counterparty is compatible with existing Bitcoin infrastructure. Counterparty assets can be easily transferred and traded alongside Bitcoin. Smart contracts support complex financial arrangements and decentralized applications.
  • Community and Development. Counterparty has an active community of developers and users. This ecosystem has led to the creation of tools and applications that enhance the platform's functionality. Continuous development and support keep Counterparty up-to-date and responsive.


  • Complexity. Counterparty's powerful features can be complex for newcomers. Users need a basic understanding of blockchain technology and Bitcoin. Creating and managing assets on Counterparty requires a learning curve, potentially deterring unfamiliar users.
  • Transaction Fees. Counterparty transactions incur network fees, which can fluctuate based on network congestion. Although generally lower than traditional systems, fees can still pose a barrier for high-volume transactions.
  • Scalability. Counterparty faces the same scalability limitations as the Bitcoin blockchain. Limited transaction processing capacity can cause delays during high-demand periods, affecting the speed and efficiency of asset creation and trading.
  • Regulatory Uncertainty. Cryptocurrency regulations are evolving in many jurisdictions. Counterparty's decentralized nature and asset creation capabilities may raise legal and regulatory concerns in some countries. This uncertainty can hinder businesses and individuals seeking to tokenize assets.
  • Dependency on Bitcoin. Counterparty relies on the success and stability of the Bitcoin network. Issues or vulnerabilities in Bitcoin could impact the functionality of the Counterparty platform. This interdependency introduces risk that users should be aware of.